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Love in Loss (Ross And Demelza Poldark: The Love Story Pt8)

Ross and Demelza Poldark consoling each other after Julia's death on a cliff top

"To feel so deeply about one's children is a great happiness- and a great danger."

Ross Poldark - Twisted Sword 

So far there have been blogs in the Ross and Demelza's love story documenting the high romance prominent particularly in the early stages but also of their love in more challenging times. In a way it was in times of adversity that their love for each other stood out even more glaringly. Perhaps that is because it was in those times when they most needed to demonstrate it to get them through together. This blog looks at the circumstances around their worst experiences in the losses of their children, how their love for each other saw them through those bereavements and also the impact that temptation from other distractors had on their love in their time of loss.


A Stronger love than before

There is a quote from an unknown author saying that
 'The couples that are meant to be, are the ones who go through everything that is meant to tear them apart, and come out even stronger.' Julia's death was one of the worst and most tragic blows in Ross and Demelza's marriage. It was like a final nail in the coffin of a whole host of other problems at the time. Without a strong foundation of love it could easily have brought this marriage to its knees.

Julia's death was due to her catching the 'putrid throat disease'. Without his own confirmation as narrator, Graham wrote the circumstances of this so that the natural assumption to Ross and readers was that transmission of this disease was from Demelza after she cared for Francis, Elizabeth and Geoffrey Charles at Trenwith. They had been sick with the disease. Though it was very sad, it does seem that the main purpose of Julia's death was to be a plot device to support an ongoing theme that Graham had consistently woven into Ross and Demelza's love story. The post '9 Big Deaths of Poldark-Julia Poldark pt1 (A Mystery of Blame)' explores the issue of presumption and possibilities regarding how Julia came to be infected and how this may have been even before the visit to Trenwith. However this plot device was another that showed them constantly conquering the worst challenges and threats thrown at them right through to the end of the saga. By the time of Jeremy's death they had not only maintained their love in all they overcame, but just as stated in this unknown quote, they strengthened it. Their love was made stronger through their shared experience in triumph over adversity and challenge. With this came a refining of commitment and devotion to each other. As well as this there was an ever tightening of  their bond with Ross declaring to Demelza in 'The Angry Tide' that life without her would be "..intolerable, unthinkable, beyond bearing..".


A Barely Perceptible Estrangement 

With the attendance of an 'ill-clad', diseased and therefore depleted Christmas choir at Nampara, which was within the ten day maximum incubation period for the putrid throat, and with Graham's narration that in addition to this the disease was rife in the area, Graham made sure the reader knew Ross believed transmission stemmed specifically from Demelza's Trenwith visit. He told Dwight "Demelza saved Geoffrey Charles and gave Julia in his place." 
It was a major area of sensitivity for them and in 'Jeremy Poldark' the prickly nature of the matter was conveyed in Demelza's own thoughts after Ross successfully avoided conviction at trialGraham explained that 'Sometimes she suspected that Julia was a bar between them....' and Demelza's observation of Ross was that 'The child's name was hardly ever mentioned.' It was not until later in 'Warleggan' when in respect of her death Graham in the narrator's voice wrote 'That had been the first breach between Demelza and Ross. An estrangement, though barely perceptible, had grown from that day out of Ross's grief, and Elizabeth had made the most of it.' He conveyed that Julia's death was a massive marital issue. Ross could then have harboured ill feelings of bitterness and resentment towards Demelza. However, at the same time Graham demonstrated that despite all this, that it did not break them or their love for each other. 

Together with Julia's death, the financial and legal problems Ross faced seemed to make him more susceptible to outside forces and in particular to temptation from his first love. Incidentally a first love who Graham narrated sought to 'rebuild her ascendancy' in his mind over Demelza. The blog 'The Greatest Love Above Any Other' documents that in the happy days of love between Ross and Demelza, even though Elizabeth was acknowledged as a 'fever' for Ross, his unfinished business, attraction to her and her making 'she-cat eyes' at him were not enough to tempt or unsettle him at that time. Ross instead had private thoughts in 'Ross Poldark' where he was ecstatic with happiness in his new love for his wife. Also in 'Demelza' and still even in 'Jeremy Poldark' he had thoughts that it was Demelza who was the woman that '...meant more to him than any other'. But under the harrowing times presented in 'Jeremy Poldark' and where Elizabeth's 'she-cat eyes' had not shaken him before, now, in his vulnerability Elizabeth was finally able to unsettle and tempt him since marriage to Demelza. This was explored in the 'A Touch of Red Dress Seduction' blog and explains Graham's narration that in respect of Ross's grief Elizabeth had 'made the most of it'. Graham narrated that even Ross had personally considered Elizabeth's behaviour towards him to be 'challenging' and thought that '...its a change towards me.' A change that had not uncoincidentally coincided with his time of grieving. The question is, in Ross's more vulnerable and grief stricken state, would the tempting and idealised allure of his first love (who in addition was now demonstrating behaviours inviting some kind of marital mischief), cause him to give his love to her and withdraw his love from Demelza? 

Unfailing Devotion Against Temptation 

The answer to the last question is 'N0'. Ross did not surrender to and was not willing to be physically unfaithful to Demelza both in the happy times and also this time of loss. As documented in the 'A Touch of Red Dress Seduction' blog he ultimately did demonstrate restraint to Elizabeth's flirtatious behaviour and all through this time of loss he never doubted his love for Demelza. After Elizabeth's kitchen flirting with Ross, Graham narrated Ross's thoughts that he had loved Demelza 'devotedly for four years' and that he still did. His straying thoughts to Elizabeth were a worrying sign of internal conflict about a love for another woman, but he himself was concerned he was betraying Demelza's trust with this, and in further exploration he recognised that unlike his unquestionable love for Elizabeth before he had fallen in love with Demelza, after this a love for Elizabeth was no longer a sure thing. Whilst acknowledging a revived attraction to Elizabeth Graham however wrote Ross questioning 'Was it because he loved Elizabeth more -or because he knew her less?' Graham had already previously written in 'Demelza' that after denying to Demelza that he loved Elizabeth that Ross's thoughts were that he '..did not know the truth himself..'  This was a significant thought as before marriage to Demelza he had never questioned or been unsure of his love for Elizabeth. 
Therefore this all nevertheless documented that even whilst suffering loss and slight estrangement from Demelza there was not only a reaffirmation of his devotion and love for her still, but confirmation to the reader that Elizabeth was not at all the clear front runner in his heart anymore. At this stage in his life he was no longer certain of his love for Elizabeth and his moment with her in the kitchen and his later run ins with Elizabeth should rightly throw up the question of whether it was a real love or just a real lust that he felt for her. On the other hand, against all their issues and struggles, unbeknown to her, Demelza's grip on Ross's heart and his love had not loosened. His confusion and uncertainty was never about not loving her.

Of course the elephant in the room is that whilst Ross stayed true to Demelza and did resist the allure and temptation of the increasingly flirtatious Elizabeth at this difficult time after Julia's death, some three years later he would be unfaithful with her after all. This incident and circumstances that caused him to betray his love for Demelza will be explored in the upcoming blog 'Ross Poldark: A Fall from Grace in his Fall with Elizabeth'. However a sure observation here is that despite the romanticisation of it in the latest television adaption the unfaithfulness with Elizabeth was unromantic in nature. It was not necessarily inspired by a love let alone to say a greater one than his love for Demelza. Additionally, with his complicated mix of anger at Elizabeth and at George in this and together with the question of Ross's rationality of mind at the time, 
in the aftermath Ross eventually processed  for himself that what had stood out for him with certainty was in his words a "true and real love" for Demelza and "not for" Elizabeth. 

A Loving Good Will For His Wife

Graham was correct to say that any estrangement Ross had with Demelza arising from Julia's death was 'barely perceptible' because even with his belief of Demelza 'courting infection' at Trenwith and passing this to Julia. Graham did not write him openly or privately showing any resentment to Demelza. In fact his bitterness was directed towards Francis and Elizabeth. Neither did he show resentment over Demelza's ability to cope better with her grief. Ross had recognised that he was hit the hardest with Julia's death because grieving no less than he Demelza's '...was a more pliant nature...and so sorrow had less power to injure her.' Instead of bitterness Graham wrote that 'He thanked God for this'. This certainly fits the definitions of love referred to in the 'Not Happy You Are Happy, Ross' blog which explored whether Elizabeth truly loved Ross. There is St Thomas Aquinas's definition that "To love is to will the good of another." Also Tim Lahaye's explanation that "Selfishness is the opposite of Love". In accordance with these ideas Ross's gratitude for Demelza coping better with her pain in grief, and him not at all resenting her for Julia's death, depicts a man who therefore truly loved her unselfishly and willed the best for her. 

Demelza To Ross- A Balm and Tonic to His Soul

In their loss Graham continued the idea that Demelza was a light in the dark and a salving spirit for Ross. When immediately after Julia's death he was out of his mind with grief and anger Dwight had been so concerned about his behaviour that he even wrongly thought Ross had been drinking. In the narrator's voice Graham interjected that actually 'There was something mentally wrong with him, but Dwight could do nothing for that.' Graham also referred to Ross's 'restless devil inside' and it was apparent that since for him 'the pain and the fury were not gone' Ross did rouse a crowd on Hendrawna beach to loot a ship wreck. From this rioting ensued. However, against the drama and noise from this commotion the contrast Graham provided was to show that Ross in his quiet moments with Demelza was soothed by her presence and even the touch of her skin. He wrote that it was 
'...her returning life (that) was a tonic to his soul.' Also as he carried a fragile Demelza to a window to see the shipwreck '.....somehow the feel of her arm about his neck, the living companionable substance of her, was like a balm.' 

A Loving Companionship 

In bereavement Ross and Demelza proved to be a comfort to each other in their companionship. In the last scene of 'Demelza' 
Demelza cried tears of grief as her cheeks were pressed against Ross's. He had put his arm around her as they talked and looked out at the view. The love, unity and overall togetherness in this scene is a fine representation of exactly how they got through those tough times together. It was that ultimately, and regardless of their different perspectives and manifestations of their grief, they were still always there for each other in their time of loss. Quite importantly they always felt compassionately about the other and seeking good for each other too. Therefore their estrangement was as Graham narrated only 'barely perceptible'. For another marriage the estrangement might have been more significant and damaging but it would not be enough to do serious damage for Ross and Demelza. Their love in each other remained a glue to prevent any significant and permanent detachment.

Living For You In Your Grie

Ross and Demelza standing strong together was not just based on Ross's effort and lack of bitterness. It was a joint effort. For instance, whilst Ross thought it a relief and blessing for her that Demelza had the ability to be pliant and to '..lavish interest on the things she loved and contriving for their betterment,..', this helped her to meet his needs too. In her love of him she specifically wished for his betterment. It was evident that she still held true to her declaration to Ross the night they first slept together where she said "I live only for you." Similarly in his grief she again repeated before his trial 
"I live only through you." Putting aside her own joy of his acquittal and in light of his moodiness about this Demelza approached him with a delicate love and patience. Ross privately acknowledged this with gratitude. Watching her at a distance attending to his needs Graham wrote in 'Jeremy Poldark' that for Ross ' impulse of warmth and gratitude towards her came to him.' Graham then explained about Demelza that 'She might not understand the causes, but some instinct told her that spiritually he was still-at the most- a convalescent.' And so she would be patient with him and in her nurturing care and regard of him she demonstrated her professions of living for and through him. 

A Dose of Infectious Optimism To Dull The Pain

The other key ingredients of Demelza's loving and positive approach which helped Ross in his grief was her optimism and purity of heart. This seemed to draw him away from negative outlooks. It drew him away from bitter wallowing and instead to a mind that sought out the blessings in life. Such as friendship. After Julia's death Demelza expressed concern for and asked after "...them and Trenwith". Ross saw that there was no trace of bitterness in her towards them and Graham wrote that for Ross 'It made him ashamed of his own.' Of Demelza's suggestion for Ross to rebuild his friendship with Francis he said "I believe yours is the only wisdom."  She was successful in opening him up to a reconciliation which serves to highlight her positive impact. This can be seen in the closing scene of 'Demelza' after Julia's death.  In refusing his request to come out of the cold away from the window Demelza said "No. I am quite warm, Ross. Let me stay a little longer in the sun." This is another bit of dialogue that says so much about Demelza's inner strength and optimism of character. Just as described in Ross's thoughts she derived joy from the little things in life. Therefore following Julia's death she could find some comfort in a sunny day and more importantly rope Ross into this too. 

Demelza's warm blooded character was a contrast to Ross's pessimistic one. Her wish for the sun while crying tears of grief really endorsed Ross's own assessment of her that ' ...some element had put it in her nature to be happy.', and that ' was not in her nature to go under.' And so, Demelza would ensure that neither did he. The contrast in their characters was something Ross acknowledged and embraced. He alluded to it in the eleventh book 'Twisted Sword' when Ross said "It is not in your nature, my dear, to be unhappy
. You are in fine counterbalance with my natural mopishness." In this time of loss this counterbalance was a saving grace for Ross and it accorded with another of his ruminations in the ninth book 'The Miller's Dance'. There he thought Demelza's happy outlook on life rubbed off on him as he thought 'I follow behind her, knowing of my happiness through her.' 


'Then she would stand by the window and cry alone for the loss of her son.' 
Twisted Sword 

Valentine: Resisting his deep waters


Unfortunately Ross and Demelza would experience the loss of another child twenty five years later with Jeremy. In 'Twisted Sword' on 18th June 1815 he was killed in battle in 'The Battle of Waterloo'
Graham reported why Jeremy's death hit them very hard in explaining that he had been 'Born in a time of great stress, he had been with them ever since through all the vicissitudes of life, all their joys, all their sorrows. Because of that, because of his age, he was more a part of the family than any of the younger three-' For Demelza he wrote that  '....whenever she thought of Jeremy she thought of a thousand days of caring.' 

Whilst Jeremy's death was extremely sad it was at least free from any aspect of blame to either of them. Also in respect of their love story there was no first love or other love interest that sought to exploit their fragility in their grief. However in a storyline which showed a 'like mother like son' approach by Valentine Warleggan, Valentine sought to make the 'most of it' in trying to get closer to Ross. This is just as Graham had narrated that Elizabeth had tried to do. The significance is that this could have potentially disrupted the Ross and Demelza marriage and therefore their love story at this time of loss. Valentines's attempt to do so will be explored in an upcoming blog 'Ross Poldark and Valentine: A Father not like Son'. However just as Elizabeth Warleggan failed with this, so too did Valentine. Instead Ross's inclination was to steer clear of Valentine. Except for dutiful calls to action and a life and death scenario Ross never had intentions of fully embracing and recognising him as part of his family. His priority was always to Demelza and ensuring that Valentine did not send them into "deep waters". Therefore he had always wanted to keep him at a distance and his last thoughts in 'Bella Poldark' were not to let Valentine ever come between him and Demelza again and to show his true and 'happy face'  which he felt life with her did truly inspire.

I Live Only For You, I Live to Console You

Ross and Demelza's love was pretty rock solid in the later books of the saga. The way they handled Jeremy's death reflected this. They demonstrated a love in their loss that truly followed the 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 passage referred to in the 'Love for Better or Worse' blog. It was a patient, kind and selfless love for each other which continued to 'bear all things'

With Jeremy's passing Ross and Demelza shared their grief on an even more unified level than they had done with Julia. They showed immense dedication to comforting and trying to build each other up. Ross's letter to Demelza announcing the death would surely have been the hardest letter a husband should have to write to his wife but his letter was so sensitively written and drew on points that might provide some comfort. Such as Jeremy's bravery in his death and Ross's admiration for this. But in person this sensitivity was palpable too. When reunited, and in one scene of consoling each other Graham wrote that 
'Demelza got up, took out her handkerchief and gently dabbed his (Ross's) eyes. Then wiped her own.' Though she had been in a zombie like state upon hearing the news by letter, upon Ross's return home she appeared to snap out of this and was instead running around the place focused on looking after him. Dwight however reported to Ross about how Demelza had been in his absence, saying "She cared for nothing. Often she would not talk even to her family...Most of the times she would just sit there." In his loving concern Ross was naturally anxious and worried about her, but in speculating on Demelza Dwight suggested her sudden liveliness was because "She may feel that she has to be supportive of you." Again in this she exuded her own professed  'I live only for you' devotion. 

Optimism and Nurturing the Way Forward 

The closing book dialogue from Demelza in 'Twisted Sword' again highlights Demelza's optimistic nature in getting through their loss. After taking Ross for a walk to a well where she honoured Jeremy's private request to discard his loving cup, she got up and said "Dearest Ross, let us go home now. There is a baby to see to." Referring to Jeremy's newly born daughter 'Noelle Frances Poldark' this was clearly Demelza inviting Ross to try to move forward with her and to focus on the positives and the new blessings they had. 

A Lead From Ross

Finally it is important to highlight that with Jeremy's death Graham showed Ross as taking the lead with their recovery. Perhaps this time he was the one treating Demelza like she was the convalescent. Accordingly as 
documented in the last book 'Bella Poldark', in the years later Demelza struggled to return to her complete normal self. Ross showed that the dedication of love in loss worked both ways with Graham reporting that three years later that Ross's '...chief aim had been to bring Demelza back to normality, and in this to a large extent he thought he had succeeded. Her long spells of silence had gone. He has tried to take her out to supper parties or for weekends in the county.' The additional line that 'With that he was content in making her content.', exudes that the 'living for you' devotion that Demelza bore was also bore by Ross in respect of her too. It is another testimony to the idea that theirs was a love that was not only patient and kind but had at its core the essence of the love defined by St Thomas Aquinas. Essentially a spiritual commitment to pursue the good and best interest of the other. That was their 'love in loss'.

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